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Nigerian Jollof Rice

Plus, how to make the Party Rice version of this popular dish.

My interest in cooking started at a young age, watching and admiring my mother who was not only an astute entrepreneur in the sale of bulk raw food, but also catered on a large scale for functions in our community.

Nigerian Jollof Rice

Kemi Odubajo, head of Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Boksburg campus


  • 80 ml vegetable oil

  • 6 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 x 400 g tin tomatoes)

  • 4 red peppers, deseeded

  • 3 red onions, 1 thinly sliced, 2 roughly chopped

  • 1 chilli, deseeded

  • 3 tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 tsp curry powder

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 5 to 6 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef)

  • 2 tsp butter

  • 4 cups uncooked long-grain or basmati rice, rinsed

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a blender, combine tomatoes, red peppers, chopped onions and chilli with 2 cups of stock and blend until smooth. Pour into a large pot and bring to the boil then turn down and let simmer, partly covered for 10 minutes.

  2. In a large pan, heat oil and add the sliced onions. Season with a pinch of salt, stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the bay leaves, curry powder and dried thyme and a pinch of black pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat. Add tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes.

  3. Add the reduced tomato-pepper-chilli mixture, stir and cook on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes until reduced by half, partly covered.

  4. Add 4 cups of stock to the cooked tomato sauce and bring to boil for 1 to 2 minutes. Add rinsed rice and butter and stir.

  5. Cover with a double piece of foil and put a lid on to seal in the steam and lock in the flavour. Turn down the heat and cook on lowest possible heat for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

  6. Stir, taste and adjust seasoning as required. If the rice isn’t soft enough, stir through ¼ to ½ cup of stock and continue to steam on low until cooked. Let it rest, covered for 5 to 6 minutes before serving.


To make Party Rice, which is essentially Smoky Jollof Rice traditionally cooked over an open fire, do the following:

  • Once the rice is cooked, turn up the heat with the lid on and leave to “burn” for 3 to 5 minutes. You’ll hear the rice crackle and snap and it will smell toasted.

  • Turn off the heat and leave the lid on to rest until ready to serve. The longer the lid stays on the smokier it will be.



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